Understanding Rhetorical “Text”

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Rhetorical Text

To understand digital text, “text” needs to be broken down. Eyman’s “Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric” helps explain its meaning. In Eyman’s book, he states that text is not limited to printed text. Eyman says, through cultural studies and postmodern theory, a text can mean “any object, collection of objects, or contexts can be ‘read’ by tracing and retracing the slipping, contradictory network of connections, disconnections, presences, absences, and assemblages that occupy problematic spaces” (Johnson- Eilola 2010, 33).” This means that rhetorical meanings in digital texts are seen as a reflection of certain ideological backgrounds rather than being neutral or “self-evident.”

Nike’s Controversy

For example, a direct feeling about something can be how someone feels about Nike’s labor exploitation. Nike promotes their products to audiences from countries considered “First-world” while ignoring or hiding exploited labor in what is considered to be a “third-world country”. Nike often advertises their expensive shoes via Instagram, Twitter, or television commercials. Their audience includes those with money to spend on their expensive product. In reality, their shoes are made in factories in poorer countries whose workers are being paid little. People may boycott Nike products due to this labor issue.

Disney’s Controversy

An indirect example can be Disney’s reduction in stocks after Florida’s creation of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney received backlash from both sides of political parties with one side angry that it took Disney so long to give their stance, and the other being angry with the stance they chose. In addition to other issues such as the pandemic, Disney’s stocks have significantly dropped in the last few years due to these variables. Because of the bill, there has also been a decrease in people paying for tickets to go to Disney. Some have all out boycotted their parks and products because of their political stance.

Not Just Words

It is apparent that anything seen or heard that is promoted still has some “hidden” message attached to them. This may involve an individual’s political stance, work ethic, labor laws, or morals. Commercials use rhetoric to convince people to purchase their product, donate, or think a certain way. However, the commercial itself is still a reflection of the company and people may be biased about an organization due to things that either directly or indirectly relate to its advertising.

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